A Splendid Tool For The Library

WHO’S WHO IN SCIENCE IN EUROPE A Biographical Guide in Science. Technology, Agriculture, and Medicine. Fifth edition. Longman Group Ltd.. Essex, UK, 1987. 3 vols. 2,880 pp. £395. Distributed in the United States and Canada by Gale Research Co., Detroit, MI. $695. Despite initial astonishment at finding distinguished Spanish biochemist and new UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor’s name omitted, and mild amusement on discovering that social scientists continue to be ignored

Jan 25, 1988
Bernard Dixon

WHO’S WHO IN
SCIENCE IN EUROPE

A Biographical Guide in Science. Technology, Agriculture, and Medicine. Fifth edition. Longman Group Ltd.. Essex, UK, 1987. 3 vols. 2,880 pp. £395. Distributed in the United States and Canada by Gale Research Co., Detroit, MI. $695.

Despite initial astonishment at finding distinguished Spanish biochemist and new UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor’s name omitted, and mild amusement on discovering that social scientists continue to be ignored en bloc, I can recommend this Euro-dossier without further reservation as a splendid working tool for the science library. Improved beyond measure since it first appeared two decades ago, the trio of hefty tomes now provide accurate and topical biographical date concerning senior scientists (including society officers), engineers and medicos throughout Europe. Although a few entries are a little thin, the vast majority provide concise summaries of subjects’ education, careers, research interests, publications, memberships, telephone numbers and other professional details. The Eastern countries are covered surprisingly well, the sole exception being the Soviet Union—which is absent because of “difficulties involved in obtaining up to date and reliable information.”

A useful additional feature I described as Part 2 of the entire opus, but actually occupying less than 100 pages in one of the three 1,000 page volumes is a country-by-country, subject-by-subject classification. If, for example, you want to locate key soil scientists in Turkey or control engineers in Spain, you will discover their names here, You will also find, unaccountably in view of the problems mentioned above, four names representing the entire scientific and technological might of the Soviet Union. Why editor Brenda Wren and her colleagues have selected one geologist, a solitary clinician, a lone microbiologist and a single clinical psychologist for inclusion is indeed a puzzle.

But that’s a quibble. Having used Who’s Who in Science in Europe nearly every working day over a period of two months (the only realistic way in which to review a reference work), I can testify to its great value. With mild irritation, and having searched diligently, I have failed to spot a single factual error attached to individuals whose vital statistics I know well. And I can confirm that the vast majority of names are in place. In this, the guide contrasts sharply with the prize exhibit of my reference collection, the third and most recent (1980-81) edition of Simon Books’ Who’s Who of British Scientists, in which I have never been able to locate a single researcher about whom I was seeking enlightenment. Perhaps Longman (which obviously has the data base to do the job) will now produce handy-sized directories for Britain and other individual countries. Dixon, a microbiologist by train
ing, is European editor of
THE SCIENTIST.


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(The Scientist, Vol:2, #2, p.20, January 25, 1988)
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